West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts insists the region’s fall off in producing top-class bowling talent is due to the unwillingness of the current generation to put in the hard yards required to be successful.

For decades, the region was the producer of fearsome fast bowling talent, which often left opposition batsmen with plenty to think about.  The likes of Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Wes Hall, and Michael Holding are only a few of the names who could leave opponents with plenty to dread once they strode to the crease.

Many will point to the pace-bowling lineage being broken with the end of twin towers Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, with no bowler since managing to come close to consistency matching that once fearsome legacy.

“I don’t think that these guys are prepared for the hard work that fast bowling entails,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest program.

“If you look at it, most players now prefer to play T20s, it's only four overs.  I must say that fast bowling is hard work, I would say donkey work, but I just believe they are not prepared,” he added.

In recent times, some have blamed poor preparation of the region’s pitches for suffocation of the Caribbean’s fast bowling talent, Roberts, however, does not agree.

“A lot of people blame the pitches, but I always ask, Pakistan is supposed to have some of the slowest pitches in the world, yet still they produce some of the fastest bowlers in the world.  How do they do it and we can’t,” Roberts said.

 “People believe that during the 60s, 70s, and 80s we used to have really fast pitches, that is far from the truth.  We used to have Kensington Oval, the ball used to swing around and move off the seam on the first day, but after that, it became one of the best batting pitches in the region.  It has nothing to do with pitches, it has a lot to do with the work ethics of the young cricketers, they don’t want to work hard.”

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Andy Roberts has questioned some of the reasoning behind players opting not to go on the team’s upcoming tour of Bangladesh.

12 players, including captains Jason Holder, Kieron Pollard, and Roston Chase all opted to make themselves unavailable for the series, citing health and safety concerns.  Joining the trio on the sidelines are Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Sheldon Cottrell, Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer, Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen and Shane Dowrich.

The West Indies was one of the first teams to resume international cricket when they visited England, under quarantine protocols, in July.  On that occasion, Bravo, Hetmeyer and Keemo Paul opted not to go on tour. The team then travelled to New Zealand earlier this month.  On that occasion, Andre Russell, Lendl Simmons, and Lewis opted out of the tour.

With so many players deciding not to accept the invitation on this occasion, however, Roberts has questioned the difference between England and New Zealand vs Bangladesh.

“How do all of these guys who couldn’t make a team two or three years ago now become so big that they are refusing to tour and blaming it on the bubble,” Roberts said.

“Was it a problem when the majority of these players went to England?  Was it a problem when the majority of these players went to New Zealand? How now is it a problem when they are going to Bangladesh?”

Bangladesh has a very high rate of COVID transmission with 510,080 confirmed coronavirus cases and 7,479 deaths.  However, England also had a high death and infection rate at the time of the tour.  Under the CWI Covid-19 rules, however, the players have the option to accept or decline tour invitations during the pandemic without it influencing thoughts of future selection.

 

No one can question Andy Roberts’ passion for West Indies cricket. After an outstanding career for the West Indies where he took 202 wickets as part of a battery of fast bowlers, who terrorised teams for more than a decade, the no-nonsense Antiguan has for the last two decades has had to watch with despair and disdain while batting line ups have taken our bowling attacks apart almost at will.

I would imagine it would be even more frustrating for him to watch as West Indies’ batsmen, more often than not, seem incapable of batting for time in a Test match.

This was evident in the last two Test matches the West Indies lost to England at Old Trafford last month.

Therefore, it was no surprise to hear Roberts speak passionately about the team’s failures during an interview with Andrew Mason last week. Responding to comments regarding the lack of technological infrastructure that puts the West Indies at a disadvantage when compared to England, Roberts was quick to rubbish those claims, instead choosing to throw the blame squarely at the feet of the players.

“Infrastructure will not make you a better player.  You have to make yourself a better player and I don’t think the commitment is there from a lot of West Indies players,” he said.

“It’s not just the Test players but a lot of people who play cricket in the West Indies. I don’t think they commit themselves enough.  If you did, you would not be averaging 30 in first-class cricket and that is what we are getting.”

On the issue of commitment, I believe he makes a strong point. My perspective is that when you watch a West Indian batsman bat these days, you see a couple of things right away.

You see the deficiencies in technique but what you also see is how those weaknesses persist over time. I remember when Ronnie Sarwan just came into the West Indies. He was in love either with cutting balls that were close to or on his off stump.

Consequently, he would constantly get out by either playing on, being caught behind or snapped up somewhere between gully and point. However, over time he was more selective when choosing to play the shot and went on to have a successful career.

Shivnarine Chanderpaul adjusted his batting stance that allowed him to achieve incredible things like bat for 25 hours in a Test series between dismissals and face 1050 consecutive deliveries without losing his wicket.

This is something he did repeatedly – in 2002, 2004, and 2007 - all because he learned from his previous errors and adjusted.

I have yet to see this from any of the current players – a clear lack of commitment to improve, satisfied with mediocrity instead of striving for excellence.

You also see an inability to concentrate for extended periods. Watch any West Indies batsman in the current team. If they last more than an hour at the crease, you can literally see them struggling to maintain the high levels of concentration.

It manifests in bizarre shots unexpectedly as well as retreating into a defensive mode before eventually giving his wicket away.

You would never see that happen to Tiger because of how he practised.

Australian opener David Warner shared a story about how in 2011 Chanderpaul revealed to him the secret of how to occupy the crease for long periods.

“He batted on the bowling machine for six hours. I said, ‘This is ridiculous, how can you do this?’ And he said, ‘If you’re going to bat for six hours in a game you might as well practise it.’”

When you watch the current batsmen in the West Indies set up, I am sure none of them spends two hours batting in the nets let alone six.

This is the commitment needed and which Roberts believes is missing.

However, I do believe that improved structures would help the players improve.

Better facilities, better equipment, better coaches help deliver more information to players and in most cases lead to better performances even if marginal.

Better infrastructure allows players, regardless of the sport, to perform at a higher level. Think of it this way.

If you go to work each day in a rundown building where you don’t have access to the most basic of equipment; the copier doesn’t work, the air-conditioning makes you sick, and you have to take the stairs instead of an elevator, wouldn’t you feel demotivated?

To make matters worse every time you visit another office where the basics are in abundance, it depresses you. Eventually, the quality of your work deteriorates without you even realizing it.

It is the same with athletes.

If an athlete is not comfortable with his training environment, his or her ability to learn can be impacted. Like everyone else, athletes need to feel motivated in order to improve.

Modern facilities encourage athletes to work harder and hence improve..

 

 

 

 

 

Legendary West Indian fast bowler Sir Andy Roberts has pointed to a poor work ethic on the part of the region’s batsmen as a major factor in the team’s inability to take a step up to the next level.

Following the promising start but a disastrous end to the tour of England, a lot of discussions surrounding how to improve the team’s performance focused on increased technological infrastructure around the region.

The typically fiery former pace bowler was, however, quick to point out that such investment is unlikely to make a difference if the attitude and work ethics of the batsmen do not improve.

“Infrastructure will not make you a better player.  You have to make yourself a better player and I don’t think the commitment is there from a lot of West Indies players,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“It’s not just the Test players but a lot of people who play cricket in the West Indies, I don’t think they commit themselves enough.  If you did, you would not be averaging 30 in first-class cricket and that is what we are getting.”

In the recently concluded series, it was Jermaine Blackwood that averaged the most for the team with 35.17 but he was the only one to get to 30.  Overall, for the series, the team averaged closer to 20.  In fact, the team’s highest batting average in a Test series consisting of at least two matches since 2017 is 34.66 and that was against Zimbabwe in 2017.

“You can’t beat any quality team with that type of average.  So, our guys first have to stand up in front of the mirror and think what am I doing to improve myself, because, until our players improve their batting we are not going to score runs against a strong team.”

 

West Indies fast bowling great Andy Roberts believes Shimron Hetmyer erred when deciding to forego the West Indies tour of England.

West Indies legend Sir Andy Roberts believes up and coming fast bowler Oshane Thomas should have been one of the names scribbled higher on the list for the team’s upcoming three-Test tour of England.

The 23-year-old pace bowler has been added as a reserve for the tour but is not a part of the 14-man squad for the series.  In fact, he is yet to make his test cricket debut but has played 20 ODIs and 12 T20Is since his debut in late 2018 and picked up five-wicket hauls in both limited-overs formats. 

Roberts believes the tour would provide the perfect opportunity to look at the player for the longest format of the game, because of one attribute, his raw pace.

“He should be in that 14-man squad from the onset.  He has what others want, he has pace.  Everybody wants pace,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest Radio program.

“He may not be a wicket-taker but he may create some problems for the opposition and that is what you want.  Sometimes it’s not the guy who gets the wickets, it’s the guy who creates the problem that gets the other guys the wickets.”

Thomas had an impressive outing for the West Indies before the global game was halted due to the spread of the coronavirus.  He took 5 for 28 and 1 for 24 as West Indies swept Sri Lanka 2-0 in a T20I series in the first week of March.

 

 

 

West Indies fast bowling great Sir Andy Roberts insists it was a mistake for the team to embark on the current tour of England, without tangible compensation, due to the high risk taken by the players.

The West Indies and England will return to international cricket next month, with a three-Test match series behind closed doors.  With the spread of the coronavirus continuing to be a serious concern in the UK, for safety reasons, the players and everyone associated with the series will be kept in what has been described as a biosecure bubble for seven weeks.

With the United Kingdom (UK) being one of the hardest-hit countries by the virus and some 41,128 deaths already reported, there will doubtlessly be some element of risk in travelling for the tour.  As such, West Indies players were given the option of not accepting the invitation, with Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul all deciding to opt-out due to safety concerns.  As is customary, it is the host team that will be entitled to the revenue from the series, with the decision by the West Indies expected to save the England and Wales Cricket Board £120million in reimbursements to Sky Sports.

Due to the exceptional nature of the circumstances, Roberts believes the Caribbean team should have secured better compensation.

“I don’t have a problem with them negotiating to go to England, but what I have a problem with is talk that the West Indies will not benefit from the tour financially,” Roberts told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“I think that is a mistake because the chances that we are going to take, I don’t think you have many more countries that would be willing to take such a chance,” he added.

“If they are to benefit financially then I don’t have a problem, but if they are not going to benefit from it, then I have a problem, why take the risk and sacrifice the guys?”

Here’s how it’s going to go.

With the Coronavirus killing sports, everybody has been in a nostalgic mood. We remember fondly, the greatest sporting moments in our rich Caribbean history and sometimes turn our eyes to the rest of the world for that instance when we felt unbridled jubilation or shock and awe at a performance.

Here at SportsMax it has been no different and after the early end to the West Indies Championship, we had vigorous debates about which region had, collectively, produced the best cricket team.

Out of that ‘conversation’, if you can indeed call it that, we wondered if you selected the best playing XI of all time from each regional team, who would win.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking to build a BestXI from each regional team. At the end of coming to a consensus about what those BestXIs would like, we will pit them against each other, just for laughs.

Let’s begin with the Leeward Islands, a region known for producing tremendous cricketers, who have made themselves an integral cog in the West Indies machinery. We figured that for each region, we would pick six batsmen, a wicketkeeper and four bowlers.

 

Leeward Islands BestXI

 

Stuart Williams (St Kitts & Nevis)

Stuart Williams was the heir apparent to Desmond Haynes in the West Indies setup but his cavalier way of batting proved his undoing at the highest level. But in first-class cricket, his strokeplay and appetite for runs made him dangerous. He would end his career with 26 first-class centuries and 36 half-centuries to his name from his 151 matches for the Leeward Islands.

 

Kieran Powell (St Kitts & Nevis)

Kieran Powell is a tall elegant left-hander, who now captains the Leeward Islands. He is graceful timer of the ball but you have to watch out for the power that underlines that grace. His 31 average is lower than his talent suggests but his seven centuries and 37 half-centuries mean you never know when he will come off and opposing bowlers will be in trouble.

Richie Richardson (Antigua)

Richie Richardson captained the West Indies as replacement for Viv Richardson, guiding a new set of stars. He did the same for the Leeward Islands, leading from the front just as Viv did before him. Richardson would play 234 first-class matches in which he scored 14,618 runs. Those runs included 37 centuries, 68 half-centuries at an average of 40.71.

Viv Richards (Antigua)

Sir Vivian Richards achievements on the international stage have been given their due and he is undoubtedly the best player to ever come from the Leeward Islands. The Antigua native captained the West Indies with the same confidence and swagger with which he led the Leeward Islands. During his first-class career, Sir Viv was a beast, scoring a mammoth 36 thousand plus runs inclusive of 114 centuries and 162 half-centuries. His average of 49.40 when you consider he played 507 first-class matches is nothing to scoff at either. Interestingly, he also took 223 first-class wickets.

Keith Arthurton (St Kitts & Nevis)

Keith Arthurton was a stylish left-hander whose flair made even the smallest total an attractive thing to watch him compile. His talent did not manifest itself at the Test level but as a first-class batsman he was devastating. Averaging 45.29, his 129 matches cost his opponents 7,926 runs, inclusive of 19 centuries and 47 half-centuries.

Runako Morton (St Kitts & Nevis)

Runako Morton died in a car crash at just 33 years old. By that time, his relationship with the West Indies side had spanned eight years even though he never did command a consistent place in the regional unit. Still, he was a mainstay for the Leeward Islands, playing 95 matches and accumulating 5,980 runs along the way. He scored 14 centuries and 37 half-centuries.

Ridley Jacobs (Antigua)

Ridley Jacobs was an unorthodox wicketkeeper but there weren’t many who were safer. He was also an obstinate batsman, who made sure every innings at whatever level he played, would be prolonged for that much longer. On the way to ensuring he does that, Ridley managed to score 7,518 runs in the 157 first-class matches he played. Included in those runs were 17 centuries and 40 half-centuries at an average of 38.75. Ridley was the man you wanted in your corner in a dogfight and according to his results, he usually won.

 

Andy Roberts (Antigua)

Andy Roberts needs no introduction to this list and, like Viv Richards is an automatic pic after his exploits with the West Indies put him in the category as one of the greatest fastbowlers of all time. Roberts, ended his first-class career after 228 matches, taking an incredible 889 wickets at an average of 21.01.

Eldine Baptiste (Antigua)

From a region of incredible fast bowlers, Eldine Baptiste is perhaps unlucky not to have played more Test cricket but he was a giant of first-class cricket in the region, taking 723 wickets in 245 matches at an average of 24.65. His best bowling figures of 8-76, while special, shows the consistency of effort from a man who has taken five wickets or more in an innings on 32 occasions. He has also taken 10 wickets in a match four times.

Kenny Benjamin (Antigua)

Antiguan-born Kenny Benjamin formed an important partnership with Winston Benjamin in the early 1990s for the West Indies. The two served as backups to Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose and helped to keep the legend of dangerous four-pronged pace attacks from the region alive until the West Indies were overtaken as kings of cricket in 1995 by Australia. Benjamin got his chance with the West Indies because he was impressive for the Leewards, even more so than his impressive namesake, Winston. In just 108 matches, Benjamin took 403 wickets at an average of 23.71, grabbing five-wicket hauls in an innings on 18 occasions. He also grabbed 10 in a game twice.

Curtly Ambrose (Antigua)

Curtly Ambrose is arguably the greatest first-class bowler the West Indies region has ever seen. His well-known accomplishments at the Test level aside, Ambrose was a giant. In just 239 first-class matches the Antiguan bagged 941 wickets, taking five-wicket hauls on 50 occasions and 10-wicket hauls in a match on eight.

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